Paul Kasmin Gallery presents an exhibition of new paintings by Elliott Puckette (1967), her eighth solo exhibition at the gallery. With this body of work, the artist challenges herself to push her use of line by first translating it into three dimensions, making ephemeral sculptures out of wire.
The wire forms are the springboards for the paintings. Made quickly, and deliberately without excessive control, their unpredictable form nods to the automatism of late Abstract Expressionism. Puckette documents the silhouettes of the layered, criss-crossing maquettes by etching into a picture plane prepared with gesso and kaolin and washed with ink. This labor-intensive process is a method by which to slow the line: to subtract it from the painting rather than introduce it as an addition, and the translation of the wire sculpture into painting foregrounds the line’s dynamic potential. The arabesques billow outward, threatening to skirt off the edge completely, and then tighten unexpectedly into dense tangles. These marks, recording Puckette’s brisk, confident gestures, come alive against textured backdrops of cloudy grey, deep blue and darkest purple. The focal point of the exhibition is a large-scale, three-panel painting. Made from a life-size wire sculpture, it emphasizes the style’s spatial and emotional complexity.
This body of work develops Puckette’s lifelong exploration of the limits of the line, previously expressed in her more calligraphic paintings evocative of ancient script and musical notation. Painting was considered in decline during her studies at Cooper Union, but Puckette stood by her minimalist logic, compelled by its potential. “It was always the line,” the artist has said, “I was completely compelled by the line from the get-go. It had more possibilities than form or shape or color.” This has remained Puckette’s primary visual staple since the occasion of her first exhibition at Paul Kasmin Gallery in 1993. Her committed and meticulous study situates her in the lineage of those whose particular formal strategies have defined their oeuvre: Carmen Herrera, Brice Marden, Bridget Riley.
Born in 1967 in Lexington, KY, she received her BFA from Cooper Union in New York in 1989. Her works are included in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New York Public Library, the Fogg Museum, and the Huntsville Museum of Art.